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Motorcycle Action Group attends sector meeting on zero emission vehicles

On June 21 MAG represented the interests of motorcyclists at the Motorcycle Sector Ministerial Round Table. Despite the limited time available, MAG raised two key issues.

Colin Brown, director of campaigns and political engagement, represented MAG at the meeting, which was chaired by decarbonisation and technology minister Jesse Norman at the Department for Transport (DfT) offices at 33 Horseferry Road. Other meeting attendees represented BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, KTM, Maeving, Norton, Peugeot (Scooter Sense), Polaris/Indian Motorcycle, Suzuki, Triumph, Vmoto, Yamaha and the MCIA.

Colin Brown pressed for answers on why the department has been so sceptical of the Centre for Economics and Business Research cost benefit analysis report co-commissioned by MAG. The report findings showed that the costs of the policy outweigh the claimed benefits by a significant margin. Pointing out that the Government has still not published its own cost benefit analysis, Colin was able to secure a commitment for the report authors to meet with DfT officials to hammer out their differences. MAG will ensure this meeting does take place and that a full readout of the points discussed is made available.

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The department has published a cost benefit analysis for the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) mandate for cars and vans. As Colin pointed out, and as the official accepted, that analysis is incomplete. Colin also raised the recommendations of a recent DfT Science Advisory Council position paper on low carbon transport fuels. The 13 recommendations of this report, Colin highlighted, contradict the policy to end sales of all non-zero tailpipe emission vehicles. Colin asked if this new position paper would impact the proposed approach being advocated by the department.  The minister was very reluctant to discuss synthetic fuels, but there was a suggestion that a further meeting could be held to discuss the topic.

Speaking after the meeting, Colin said: “It is always frustrating in these environments as points of discussion can rarely be developed fully. This was certainly the case today with so many attendees. There was, unsurprisingly, little change from the major manufacturers, who all state that battery electric power cannot be the only answer. Recent events in the EU that look set to create a window for synthetic fuels in internal combustion engines are a sensible compromise.  The EU appears to be taking more notice of the calls for a genuine, rather than sham, technology neutrality.

“I was a little disappointed that the manufacturers seem less awake to the fact that the UK’s ZEV mandate for cars and vans has already cut the legs out from beneath any pathway to this technology in the UK. We need not just to secure the change for motorcycles, but to revoke the already fixed UK pathway for cars and vans. Without that win in the car and van sector the commercial viability of a supply network of liquid fuels evaporates. Motorcyclists alone will not be a big enough market to sustain commercial viability.

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“Overall, we have made a couple of steps further in our efforts to reverse this policy. The minister has suggested that the conclusion of the consultation will be further delayed into the autumn. This means that our window of opportunity remains open. We are far from finished and we have many more angles to discuss. The fight is not over.”

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